I assume the title grabbed your attention and I hope it made you uncomfortable. I am sure that you would tell me that you would never say anything like that. I hope that is the case. The problem is that some may have read it and chuckled to themselves and said, “mine too.”
I only ask you to consider my position, not to agree with it. I have to ask the question, “why do so many Christian parents focus on not being interrupted by the kids?” Over the past few weeks I have ran into the same rhetoric in several contexts, none of which would have been a place where it is expected or, in my opinion, acceptable. This isn’t a localized problem, but more of a global issue. The rhetoric bothers me because it is very opposing to what we should be standing for as Christian families. I keep hearing parents either joking about farming off their kids or planning their lives where the kids aren’t invited. I keep hearing parents openly complaining or negatively joking about their children, often within their ear shot. I am concerned that we are not behaving as we should as parents and that there is a message we are sending to our children that informs them they are “second class citizens” to us.
I understand that couples need to take a date night. I do my fair share of marriage/family counseling, I get that, I prescribe that. However, I keep hearing parents almost celebrate about the time their children were away from home and speak of looking forward to the next time they leave. Are your children really that big of an interruption to your life?
When we regularly send the kids away, to a friend’s house, to athletic activities, to afterschool care, to grandma’s, to extracurricular activities, etc., we are sending a very nasty message to them. I’m not talking about those times when a regular work schedule is in the way, but I am talking about just about everything else. It gives them the message that they are “second class.” It says to them that they are an interruption to our good life and that our time is somehow strained, less fulfilling, more stressful, less happy, or problematic. It says that we don’t want to be bothered by their presence.
There are lifelong effects that happen because of this. The first, and most profound, effect is most obvious. I keep hearing parents complaining about how their kids behave, how they can’t communicate, or how they don’t know what to do with them. I think the reason is pretty obvious. Parents who do not spend time with their kids have no way of knowing their kids. Parents who do not know their kids have no way of communicating with their kids. Parents who cannot communicate with their kids have no way of adequately resolving conflicts when they arise. Seems pretty obvious, right?
How much time are you spending with your children? I’m not talking about time spent doing opposite activities. I’m talking about time spent relating with each other. If you want to get along with your teenager, or if you want your college student to call home, then you better be working on this from the time they are babies. Live together, play together, pray together, worship together, cry together, and heal together. It’s great to go on dates, but be careful that it isn’t sold to them as your wonderful opportunity to get away from them and be sure to let them know that it is good when the family is back together. Through this your family will enjoy a much greater level of satisfaction, fewer behavior problems, and less stress. You will most likely find a decrease in all those “problems” you have with your kids.
How much time to you spend building your kids up, especially where they can hear it? I’m not talking about the gushy gushy stuff that nobody believes, or really wants to hear, but do you openly talk about what your child CAN do, or is doing well? I keep hearing parents complain about their kids or act “stressed out” about them. STOP…..THINK…..What kind of effect do you think that has on your child’s emotional development? What kind of self esteem can a child develop if they hear mom and dad joking about sending them away, hear them complaining about what they do and how they act, or whine about how they can’t wait for a date away from them? Seems pretty obvious, huh? Yet many of us, me included, fall into the trap of belittling our children. Perhaps it isn’t our intent, but it is what we do.
C’mon, parenting is hard, but it
is impossible to do without kids…..Duuuuuuh!!! 🙂